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Board # 21 : Intercultural Competence at the Intersection of Engineering and Study Abroad

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Conference

2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Civil Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

17

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/27807

Download Count

70

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Paper Authors

biography

Deborah Besser P.E. University of St. Thomas

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Dr. Besser, holds a MS and BS in civil engineering, and PhD in education. Currently, she is the director of University of St. Thomas Center for Engineering Education; and she teaches engineering education and engineering courses. Previous experience includes faculty positions in diverse universities where she has taught a variety of coursework ranging from engineering education to structural systems to engineering economy. Prior to teaching, Dr. Besser, a licensed engineer, was a design engineer with HNTB-CA, where she worked on seismic retrofits and new design of high profile transportation structures.

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Camille M. George University of St. Thomas Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-8503-2420

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Camille M. George is the Associate Dean of Engineering and an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN (USA). Camille George has two Bachelor’s degrees, one in Liberal Arts from the University of Chicago, and one in Fluids Engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago; a M.S. and a Ph.D in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Minnesota, respectively. Currently, she is interested in global sustainability and engineering for the developing world. Dr. George has worked on projects in the Caribbean and in West Africa. Her projects combine her expertise in thermodynamics and heat transfer with the preservation of food, the cooling of space in hot dry climates, and empowering women's cooperatives to better manage their natural resources.

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Erin Anne Kern University of St. Thomas

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Erin is a Mechanical Engineering and French student at the University of St. Thomas in her junior year of study. She works in the Playful Learning Lab in the engineering department of her university and leads projects on using code to interpret music. Erin is interested in technical writing, finding ways to connect art and engineering, and sustainable engineering, and she is also significantly involved in the Department of Residence Life on campus.

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Jenna Laleman University of St. Thomas

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Jenna is in her third year of studies at the University of St. Thomas, majoring in Elementary Education and STEM Education with a minor in Psychology. She works at her university's Playful Learning Lab which focuses on engaging students of all ages in hands-on, innovative engineering education, especially focusing on reaching the underrepresented within the STEM fields. Jenna is working on a variety of STEM student outreach programs including leading the University's STEPS (Science, Technology, and Engineering Preview Summer) Camp, developing the curriculum, leading the staff, and working as the primary researcher.

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Abstract

Intercultural Competence at the Intersection of Engineering and Study Abroad

Abstract

Study abroad participation has exploded in higher education institutions with the percent of students in the United States who study abroad rising by just over five percent in a single academic year (NAFSA, 2016). American students majoring in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields represent the largest proportion of students studying abroad at nearly 23 percent, but compared to the 36 percent of all U.S. undergraduates who major in STEM fields, STEM students are still under-represented in study abroad (IIE, 2016). As popularity for study abroad programs has grown, the evidence for study abroad success has been questioned. Previous success metrics of study abroad programs focused on the number of students participating and students' self-reports of being “transformed”. Today’s metrics require successful study abroad programs to demonstrate students’ development of intercultural agility and competence (Vande Berg et al, 2012). Intercultural knowledge and competence is "a set of cognitive, affective, and behavioral skills and characteristics that support effective and appropriate interaction in a variety of cultural contexts" (Bennett, 2008).

As civil engineering graduates increasingly participate in the international engineering work force, competencies outlined in the Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge for the 21st Century (ASCE, 2008), such as globalization (analyzing engineering works and services in order to function at a basic level in a global context) and ABET Student Outcomes (ABET, 2014) requiring students to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental and societal context, may be significantly optimized by study abroad experiences.

How courses are structured is key to providing intercultural knowledge and competence. An engineering instructor's experience creating courses balancing intercultural knowledge and engineering content has only recently entered the body of knowledge on intercultural learning. This paper explores an engineering study abroad course as a case study in furthering the discussion. The research approach taken involves mixed methods with a nod to quantitative cultural competence measures and qualitative hermeneutic phenomenology, with qualitative results to follow. To delve into understanding the experience of the study abroad engineering student, the research question explored is, “To what extent may a short-term study abroad engineering course influence student intercultural competence?”

Besser, D., & George, C. M., & Kern, E. A., & Laleman, J. (2017, June), Board # 21 : Intercultural Competence at the Intersection of Engineering and Study Abroad Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/27807

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